Is it ok to refrigerate baby formula: Refrigerating Baby Formula: Is It Safe?
Refrigerating Baby Formula: Is It Safe?
Written by WebMD Editorial Contributors
In this Article
- Preparing and Storing Formula
- Other Considerations for Formula Feeding
Having a new baby comes with a whole new routine. This includes the frequent feeding of your baby. If you choose not to breastfeed and opt for formula instead, there are some things you need to know about formula preparation and storage.
Water for Formula Bottles. Never use tap water to mix formula bottles unless you’ve sterilized it first. Tap water contains additives that may be harmful to infants. Using only bottled water to mix formula is the safest choice for your child.
Remove the water from your heat source. Allow it to cool completely before mixing in the formula. Water that is too hot can harm your baby. Once you boil water, use or refrigerate it within 1 hour. If it stays out longer than an hour, pour it out and start with fresh water for your next bottles. Alternatively, you can purchase purified water in jugs at your local grocery store.
Preparing Bottles. Each brand of formula has instructions for how much formula to mix in per ounce. Follow this guideline strictly. Mixing in too much water can fill your baby up without providing adequate nutrients. Mixing in too much formula may lead to dehydration or constipation.
Be sure to use a clean bottle for each feeding. To keep your baby healthy, wash bottles between uses with hot, soapy water and sterilize them as needed.
Storing Bottles. You can prepare formula bottles one at a time according to how often your baby is hungry. Formula will stay good in the fridge for up to 24 hours, so many parents prefer to mix enough formula for an entire day. Consider how many ounces your baby drinks per feeding session, and then mix a pitcher of formula or individual bottles for each feeding.
To avoid waste, don’t mix more formula than your baby will drink in a 24-hour period. Once a bottle is prepared or taken from the fridge for feeding, use the formula within 1 hour or throw it out. You cannot re-refrigerate formula once it has been warmed or reaches room temperature.
The reason experts recommend you throw away unused formula is because bacteria can begin to grow. Babies are much more sensitive to the dangers posed by bacteria than adults are. Their immune systems haven’t yet had a chance to build up the antibodies used to fight off illness and infection.
Bonding with Baby. There is a misconception that you will not bond with your baby as well if you feed them with formula instead of breastfeeding. This is not true. Cuddle close to your baby when you bottle-feed, and share the love! Make eye contact and use a soft voice to talk to your baby while you feed them.
Breastfeeding gives you a chance to bond with your baby, but formula-feeding gives everyone in your family a chance to bond! Encourage dad, siblings, and grandparents to hold and feed your baby. This will help your baby to feel connected and more comfortable with each member of your family. It will also ease the transition of your baby being away from you if and when you return to work.
Offering Bottles. Start out feeding your infant with bottles that are cold or at room temperature instead of heated. Your baby will never know the difference if you begin this way. However, they may refuse cold or room temperature bottles if you begin by giving warm ones.
If your baby prefers warm bottles, invest in a bottle warmer rather than using boiling water or a microwave. Bottle warmers are safer because they are specifically designed for baby bottles and provide a more consistent temperature.
Test the temperature of your child’s formula on the back of your hand before offering the bottle to your baby. If it feels too warm on your wrist, it could burn your baby’s mouth.
Diapers. The poop of a breastfed infant is very different from that of a formula-fed infant. Your baby on formula may have dark, smelly feces. This should not be cause for concern and is very normal. Generally speaking, your baby’s diapers will be smellier and firmer than if your baby was breastfed.
How long is formula good for? How long formula can sit out or last in the fridge
Wondering how to safely use and store formula? Start by preparing formula using safe water, following directions on the container. Toss any bottles your baby doesn’t finish within an hour and any bottles that sit out for more than two hours – and don’t reheat formula that has been warmed before. You can prepare a day’s worth of bottles in advance and store them in the fridge for up to 24 hours. To avoid dangerous bacterial illnesses, don’t use formula that has expired or been recalled.
Safely preparing and storing formula can protect your baby from the risks of food poisoning and bacterial illness. Follow these guidelines for preparing bottles, storing formula, and using pre-made bottles.
How to prepare baby formula
First, clean the area where you’ll be making bottles. Wash your hands well and dry them on a clean towel or paper towel.
Make sure the bottles you’re using are cleaned thoroughly (run them through the dishwasher or hand wash in hot, soapy water). If you’re using them for the first time, sterilize your bottles and bottle parts by boiling them in water for 5 minutes, using a microwave steam sterilizer bag, or using an electric steam sterilizer.
If you’re using ready-to-feed (premixed) formula, you don’t need to add any water. If you’re using powdered or liquid concentrate formula, follow the directions on the container to see how much formula and water to use.
Use safe water for preparing formula – if you’re not sure about the safety of your tap water, use bottled water or boil your water. To boil water for formula, bring cold tap water to a rolling boil for one minute only, then cool the water to room temperature for no more than 30 minutes before making bottles.
To make a bottle, always add the water first, then the formula. Attach the nipple and cap to the bottle and shake it well. If you’re preparing a larger batch of formula for the day, pour it into individual bottles and put them in the back of your fridge, where it’s coldest.
How long can formula sit out?
If you leave formula sitting outside of the fridge, be sure to use it within two hours. Room temperature is the perfect climate for bacteria to grow, so you’ll need to throw away a bottle that has been sitting out for two hours or longer.
If your baby starts a bottle but doesn’t finish it within an hour, throw the leftover formula away. Bacteria from your baby’s mouth can seep into the bottle, contaminate the formula, and make your baby sick if they drink it later.
Also, if you’ve warmed a bottle, you’ll need to feed it to your baby within one hour or throw it out. Don’t put warmed formula back in the fridge to use later.
Advertisement | page continues below
How long is formula good after it’s mixed?
Once you’ve mixed powdered or liquid concentrate formula with water, it’s best to use it or refrigerate it immediately.
If you’re refrigerating your formula, you can put it in closed bottles or a tightly covered container and store it in the fridge for up to a day. After 24 hours, toss any you haven’t used, because bacteria may have formed.
Once you’ve opened ready-to-feed formula, store it in closed bottles or tightly cover the container and refrigerate it immediately. Discard any that’s leftover based on the package directions. Most ready-to-feed formula is meant to be thrown away within 48 hours of opening.
Tip: Label bottles with the date and time you prepared them. Write on painter’s or masking tape, use a sticky note, write with a wax pencil, or set an alarm on your phone – whatever method is easiest for you.
How long is formula good in the fridge?
As long as your baby hasn’t started drinking from them, pre-mixed bottles of formula can last for 24 hours in the fridge.
An open container of ready-to-feed formula or concentrated formula will be good for 48 hours if refrigerated.
Based on how much formula your baby needs, mix only what you think you’ll use in 24 hours. To prevent waste and save time, you may want to make a large batch of formula in the morning or the night before and pour it into individual bottles that you can refrigerate and use throughout the day.
Tip: Place bottles toward the back of the refrigerator, not in door compartments, which don’t stay as cold. Put the newest bottles in the far back and rotate any older bottles to the front.
Can you reheat formula?
No. Once you’ve warmed a bottle of formula, it should be consumed within the hour. Reheating formula increases the chance of bacterial growth.
To warm a refrigerated bottle of formula safely, run it under very warm or hot water and gently swirl the liquid for a few minutes. Or, place the bottle in a bowl of very warm or hot water until it reaches the temperature your baby likes.
Another option is to use a bottle warmer that sits on your countertop (or plugs into your car’s lighter socket when you’re on the go.)
Never use a microwave to warm a bottle. These can heat the liquid unevenly, creating hot spots that could burn your baby’s mouth.
Before you feed a warmed bottle to your baby, check the temperature by squeezing a little on the inside of your wrist. Formula should feel warm, not hot.
Tip: While some babies prefer a warm bottle, there’s no medical reason to warm formula. So if your baby is fine with room-temperature or cold formula, you can skip heating it up.
If your baby didn’t finish a bottle, can you reuse it?
If your baby starts a bottle of formula but doesn’t finish it within an hour, toss it. Don’t refrigerate and reheat leftovers. Bacteria from your baby’s mouth can seep into the bottle, contaminate the formula, and make them sick.
Also, after leaving a bottle out at room temperature, make sure to clean the bottle carefully before you use it again.
Traveling with formula
When you’re out and about with your baby, how can you prepare and give them a bottle safely? Here are your options:
- Ready-to-feed formula: The easiest option is to carry an unopened container of ready-to-feed formula and a clean, empty bottle. When your baby is ready for a feeding, pour the formula into the bottle and serve it right away. However, ready-to-feed formula is more expensive, and your baby may not like it if it’s not what they usually drink.
- Powdered formula: Before you leave home, fill a bottle or bottles with clean water. Bring a small container of powdered formula and the scoop along with you, and mix the powered formula into the water when your baby is ready for a bottle. Shake it up and serve.
- Premade bottles: When bringing a premade bottle out with your baby, chill it for at least an hour in the back of the refrigerator. Use a soft cooler bag to keep the bottle(s) cold. If the cooler bag doesn’t keep bottles at 35 to 40 degrees, though, you’ll need to use them or refrigerate them within two hours.
More tips on using and storing formula safely
- Check the label on powdered formula containers to see how long the formula stays good after you open it. In most cases, manufacturers recommend disposing of formula if it hasn’t been used within 1 month of opening the container. You may want to write the date you opened the container on the lid.
- All formula, even unopened, should be thrown away after the use-by date on the container.
- Watering formula down to stretch it further isn’t safe for your baby. Formula-fed babies need all the nutrients and calories formula provides. Plus, too much water can make your baby sick, causing the electrolytes in their body to become imbalanced, which can result in seizures.
- Heat and cold can degrade the nutrients in formula, so keep unopened liquid and powdered formula in a cool place. The optimum storage temperature is between 55 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, but make certain that it stays below 95 degrees and above freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Store formula in a cabinet or on a shelf located away from your stove, oven, heating ducts, and hot water pipes. Don’t leave cans in direct sunlight or in a hot car, and don’t put them in the freezer.
- Don’t put powdered formula in the refrigerator or another damp place, because humidity can cause the powder to clump, which may over-concentrate the formula.
Protecting your baby from bacteria in formula
Cronobacter bacteria can contaminate powdered infant formula and make babies very sick. Though Cronobacter illnesses are rare, they are serious and can even cause death.
In February 2022, Abbott Nutrition recalled some Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare powdered infant formulas produced in a Michigan facility after they were linked to Cronobacter infections in infants.
If you have some of the recalled formulaOpens a new window, don’t use it and return it for a refund.
Contact your baby’s doctor immediately if you believe your baby was fed recalled formula or if you suspect they could have a Cronobacter infection. Symptoms include:
- Fever accompanied by poor feeding, excessive crying, or very low energy
- In some cases, seizures
To protect your baby from Cronobacter, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises parents and caregivers to take care when preparing and storing powdered formula.
If your baby is younger than 3 months old, was born prematurely, or has a weakened immune system, they’re especially vulnerable to Cronobacter. You may want to:
- Consider using ready-to-feed formula, which is sterile.
- Breastfeed your baby if you can.
- Prepare powdered formula with hot water (at least 158 F/70 C) to kill any germs. Boil water and let it cool for about five minutes before making a bottle. Refrigerate the bottle right away or cool it and give it to your baby.
- The best baby formulas
- When to call the doctor for your newborn
Infant formula temperature: what temperature should infant formula be?
Reading time: 5 min
Mother’s milk is the best food for a newborn. However, lactation does not occur in all women, and sometimes there is too little milk. In this case, infant formula comes to the rescue – a special food created taking into account all the needs of your baby. What temperature should be the infant formula and how to achieve ideal performance, we will tell in this article.
“To prepare nutrition, put the required amount of dry formula into a sterile bottle and fill it with boiled water at about 40 degrees or special bottled baby water. Mix thoroughly with a sterile spoon or shake the bottle vigorously. Check the food temperature and you can feed the baby.”
Pediatrician of the highest category, nutritionist, Candidate of Medical Sciences, Associate Professor of the Department of Faculty Pediatrics and Propaedeutics of Childhood Diseases, Ural State Medical University
Some mothers literally pour boiling water over the mixture for ease of breeding. And this is a big mistake, because too hot water destroys the nutrients in baby food. Boiling water can be used, but only on the condition that it is diluted before you pour it into the infant formula.
Separately about water
When choosing water, pay attention to its labeling. Bottled has the designation “for food” or “for the preparation of mixtures.” The second option does not contain a large amount of mineral salts, so it does not disturb the balance of the mixture. Moreover, it is recommended to use filtered and boiled tap water only in the most extreme cases. If you do not have the opportunity to regularly buy bottled water, purchase a special “children’s” filter. It does an excellent job of purifying running water, making it more or less suitable for baby food.
In the age of digital solutions and smart technology, any household issues, including maintaining the optimal water temperature for diluting the mixture, are solved with the help of assistant devices. Purchase an electric kettle with a built-in thermometer or a heater that allows you to maintain a constant optimum temperature around the clock – so you will always have “ready” water for cooking at hand.
How to measure the mixture temperature?
There are several ways to measure. You can, as described above, use a kettle or heater with a predetermined temperature. It’s fast and convenient. Breeding the mixture in the classical way, it is necessary to measure its temperature before giving it to the baby. For this you can use:
• special liquid thermometers;
• infrared thermometers;
• own wrist. Apply a few drops of nutrition to the back of the most delicate and sensitive part of the wrist. If it’s hot for you, it will be hot for the baby;
• temple area. It is also a sensitive and therefore “test” zone. Attach the bottle to the right or left temple – it should not burn the skin, you should feel a light and comfortable warmth.
Never try to determine the temperature of the formula by taking a sip from the bottle or dipping your finger into it.
There are always a lot of bacteria in the mouth and on the hands, they can be potentially dangerous for the health of the child – do not risk it!
If the mixture is too cold or too hot?
If the formula is too hot, it is recommended to wait a little while feeding, it will cool down at room temperature in 10-15 minutes.
If your baby is worried, you can cool the food by placing the bottle in a bowl of cold water.
If the food is cold, proceed in the same way, only by changing the temperature: put the mixture in a bowl of warm water. Do not use a microwave for this, food warms up unevenly in it, and there is a big risk for the baby to get burned. After cooling or heating, the temperature of the mixture must be checked before giving it to the child.
How to formulate?
In addition to strictly following the instructions for storing and breeding baby food, it must be given to the baby correctly.
Baby food is served to the baby in a bottle that is convenient for him (watch the material of the nipple and the size of the hole: if it is too small, the child simply will not be able to eat, and if it is too large, he may choke). Before feeding, the bottle must be sterilized: you can use a pot of boiling water, a special sterilizer or a dishwasher for this.
Another important note: if the child is completely bottle-fed, or the baby, but is ill (especially if there is a high temperature or diarrhea) – it must be supplemented. The amount of liquid for supplementation during the day corresponds to the volume of one feeding. To do this, choose special baby water, which can be bought at a specialized store, a dedicated department of a supermarket or a pharmacy. Bottled water is also suitable for making infant formula. All questions about the drinking regimen of a baby on artificial or mixed feeding must be checked with a pediatrician!
How to choose the right formula
There are many types of infant formula on the market. Conventionally, they can be divided into three main options:
- Dry, in the form of a powder that must be diluted with water.
- Liquid, prepackaged in sterile packaging, ready for use.
Regardless of the type of formula, it must be brought to the correct temperature before feeding the baby. This can be done with water (in the case of dry options) or simply by heating the package in a water bath (in the case of the finished mixture). It is recommended to choose your option with a pediatrician. However, it must be understood that regurgitation, infantile colic and constipation in most cases are associated with age-related characteristics of the developing gastrointestinal tract and can sometimes increase with a change in diet or the introduction of new products.
However, according to the recommendations of doctors, the main thing in choosing an adapted formula is its tolerance. This means, first of all, the absence of allergic reactions, as well as serious dyspeptic manifestations: regurgitation and vomiting, loose stools or constipation. Most modern adapted milk formulas contain all the necessary nutrients and vitamins:
• fatty acids, including polyunsaturated ones;
• prebiotics and probiotics;
• biologically active ingredients, including the carotenoid lutein found in breast milk.
The composition includes a complex of minerals and vitamins in the proper ratio, corresponding to the needs of a child under the age of one year. In accordance with the methodological recommendations of the “Program for optimizing the feeding of children in the first year of life in the Russian Federation”, it is only important to correctly calculate the volume of the mixture, based on the age of the baby, as well as body weight.
Parents need only the right choice, storage and preparation. With the help of modern technology, this is easy and simple: you can create the ideal temperature for infant formula without resorting to any tricky techniques. For example, now on sale you can find bottles with a temperature indicator.
Myths about infant formula
Information verified by an expert
Pediatrician of the highest category, nutritionist, candidate of medical sciences, associate professor of the department of faculty pediatrics and propaedeutics of childhood diseases, Ural State Medical University
About the author
Share on Vkontakte
Contents of article
- Basic rules for mixing
- Separately about water
- How to measure the mixture temperature?
- How to give formula?
- How to choose the right mix
- Expert advice
- Myths about infant formula
Products from article
Baby formula Nutrilak Premium Caesarea BIFI
Nutrilak Premium Infant Formula Hypoallergenic
0 to 12 months
Nutrilak Premium 2 infant formula
6 to 12 months
Might be interested
- Nutrilak Premium without palm oil
- Milk fat in infant formula
- Breastfeeding nutrition
- Nutrition during pregnancy
How to properly dilute infant formula
Properly prepare milk formula – it would seem that it is easier, read the instructions on the box and do as it is written. But sometimes the simplest things, especially when they concern a newborn, can simply put parents in a stupor.
- How to properly dilute the mixture
- How to prepare infant formula
- How long does reconstituted infant formula
- What water to dilute infant formula
- Water temperature for infant formula
- Preparing Night Feeding Formula
- Infant milk formula on the road
You should know that no formula, even the most modern adapted formula, can completely replace mother’s milk. Transferring a child to artificial feeding should be a conscious and forced step, and not the advice of a friend and the desire to make life a little easier for yourself, to have freedom of movement or your own guesses and assumptions that there is not enough breast milk. The deficit that is formed in the child’s body without mother’s milk cannot be filled with anything.
How to properly dilute the
mixture The first thing to do is read the instructions from the manufacturer. It always describes how to prepare infant formula. It is worth paying attention to the following important points:
- in what proportion to dilute the milk formula (often, one scoop per 30 ml of water)
- at what temperature is the mixture prepared
- recommended amount of ready-made formula for children of different ages
- how long and under what conditions can open packaging be stored
How to properly prepare formula for a newborn
The intestines and mouth of a healthy baby are sterile. The task of the parent is to give the baby the opportunity to gradually adapt to the surrounding space, before starting to acquaint him with pathogenic microflora (in other words, microbes).
In all cases of contact with children’s things, food and the child himself, be sure and always wash your hands with soap and water. Of course, in any case, the baby will have to get acquainted with the surrounding microorganisms, but when he is a few days old, it is too early.
Since you need to prepare the formula just before feeding, be prepared to do it to the heart-rending cries of a hungry baby. It is possible that under such conditions it will not be possible to prepare sterile bottles in cold blood – it is better and more convenient to have at least two of them.
It is better to prepare and cover a clean bottle with a dry towel than to rush around the house and remember where to put it after feeding when the baby is crying from hunger. Of course, in theory you need to wash the bottle immediately after feeding, but in practice, babies miraculously make their own adjustments to your schedule.
So, when all the necessary preparations are made, according to the instructions, we determine the desired ratio of water and dry mixture according to the age of your baby. Pour water of the required temperature into a sterile bottle or bring it to the desired temperature in the bottle. We pour the required number of measuring spoons, after removing a slide from them (you can use the back of a knife).
The measuring spoon must be dry. Follow this strictly and store infant formula in a dry place. Milk powder is very hygroscopic and perfectly absorbs moisture, and if the rules are not followed, the mixture will instantly begin to clump.
Close the bottle with a cap and shake very well so that there are no lumps left in the mixture (you can check for light). Just in case, we check the temperature of the mixture by dropping it on our wrist. After feeding, pour out the rest of the mixture.
Some mothers, trying to feed their baby more satisfyingly, increase the concentration of the dry mixture in the water. Doing this is strictly prohibited. This can lead to obesity or other metabolic disorders in the child.
To some, these measures may seem superfluous, and, of course, no one can force you to do this. But do not forget that the first three months of a child’s life without this will complicate colic and aggravate the situation with hastily washed bottles, believe me, it’s not worth it.
How long can reconstituted infant formula be stored
A very common question of interest to all parents is how long can prepared infant formula be stored? Ideally, ready-made milk formula is eaten immediately and not stored. The longer the mixture is prepared, the more chances are given to multiply harmful microbes that love heat and milky environment. And not just the right bifidobacteria, which you lovingly created the optimal temperature. The storage time of reconstituted infant formula should be kept to a minimum. Remember that prepared milk formula should be stored is impossible even in the refrigerator.
The bottle and nipple must be washed and sterilized before each formula preparation. You can learn more about sterilizing feeding bottles here.
What kind of water to dilute infant formula
An urgent question for parents – is it possible to dilute formula with infant water? For decades, boiled water has been used to prepare the mixture. Now they began to think about the fact that boiling kills water, deprives oxygen and other trace elements. Today you will not surprise anyone with special baby water for drinking and preparing formula. It does not need to be boiled, it is enough to heat it to the optimum temperature.
What are the benefits of baby water?
- at all stages of harvesting, water undergoes strict sanitary control
- cleaning uses a multi-stage filter system
- unlike boiled, it is not devoid of oxygen and other useful trace elements
- mineralization decreases in baby water (in dry mixtures, they try to choose the optimal ratio of trace elements and water with increased mineralization can disrupt these proportions)
If you want to use water from a well, it is better to hand it over for analysis to a sanitary and epidemiological station.
Water temperature for infant formula
The water temperature is of fundamental importance for the preparation of formula, which must be indicated on the packaging. Almost all mixtures now contain bifidobacteria that are beneficial for the child’s intestines. Beneficial bacteria, unlike harmful ones, are rather gentle microorganisms. At a temperature higher than that indicated in the instructions, they will simply die.
In addition, of course, the temperature of the water simply needs to be comfortable for the child, 36 – 37 ºC. This is the temperature of mother’s milk. Therefore, if possible, use a thermometer to prepare infant formula. Fortunately, the assortment of baby stores is now replete with products that make life easier for moms. Well, if there is no thermometer, it does not matter. Put a few drops of the prepared mixture from the bottle on your wrist. If the temperature of the mixture is optimal, then you will not feel it on your wrist.
It is not advisable to heat the finished mixture. Adapted infant formula is not a product that can be heated and cooled without consequences. It’s good bacteria, remember? And not only. But if it so happened that while you were preparing for feeding, the mixture has cooled down, warm it up under running hot water.
Do not use the microwave to heat up the mixture! You will not be able to control the degree of heating of the liquid bottle, which can lead to an irreversible change in the structure and composition of the formula.
Night feeding formula
The safest option for the baby and gentle for the mother is to pour water into a sterile bottle in the evening and put it in the warmer. Most warmers are capable of maintaining a constant set temperature in the bottle. Pour the dry mix into the dry mix dispenser.
Now you can prepare the mixture on autopilot at night. All that remains to be done is to get from the dispenser into the bottle and mix thoroughly. Just in case, do not forget to check the temperature of the prepared mixture. Ready. You can start feeding a hungry baby.
Infant formula on the go
All modern parents want to be mobile. We must pay tribute to the manufacturers of children’s goods – it has now become much easier to provide a child with food on a trip than it was, say, in the last century.